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Preacher, Book 1 Hardcover – July 21, 2009
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"Features more blood and blasphemy than any mainstream comic in memory. Cool."—Entertainment Weekly
"The most intense adult comic in ages."—Spin
"It will restore your faith. In comics."—The New York Daily News
About the Author
- Publisher : Vertigo (July 21, 2009)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 140122279X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1401222796
- Item Weight : 1.95 pounds
- Dimensions : 7.1 x 0.7 x 10.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #830,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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It's funny, twisted, and dark with good characters and a good/evil or heaven/hell theme. Great story too, I couldn't put it down. I also was pleasantly surprised by the art work! I know this came out a while back so I was worried it would be that old style comic art that comes on the newspaper style paper (like old Hellblazer). The art is great and pretty modern looking, the book itself is nice quality with gloss paper. Holds up to any modern trade paperback. I tore through the first book in 2 sittings and already have book 2 ordered. Unless the series takes a turn and becomes one long atheist sermon, I don't see what the big fuss was about. I'm glad I gave it a shot and can't wait to see how the show holds up!
This graphic novel, a reprint of the first twelve issues of the monthly comic by writer Garth Ennis and principal artist Steve Dillon, comes with a reputation among comics fans. Sadly, I just don’t see it. Ennis and Dillon supposedly ask important questions about what words like “God” and “salvation” mean in a world where Christianity seems increasingly tangential. But this questioning never gets beyond a Goth-ish middle grade level.
Poor Reverend “Just Call Me Jesse” Custer’s quest begins with an important discovery. The being that possesses him is a runaway spirit, with powers so vast and ambiguous, it threatens God’s very dominion. An archangel informs Jesse and his compatriots that God has fled this spirit in terror; the throne of eternal verity sits unoccupied. Only Jesse and his friends have power enough to put this situation right.
Unfortunately, not everybody wants God restored to glory. Before he’s even gotten all his facts organized, Jesse finds powers, both human and transcendent, arrayed against him with drawn weapons and nihilistic arguments. Apparently, in a world wracked with division and pain, some people would rather embrace eternal nothingness, than face judgement from God. Who, after all, created the nonsense we currently suffer through?
Watching Jesse and his allies, Tulip the assassin and Cassidy the vampire, confront their existential quest, I got the impression that writer Ennis, an atheist from Ireland, thinks he’s the first unbeliever to postulate these questions. He clearly has no conception of theodicy, the historical struggle to reconcile a loving God and a secular world. He’s hardly the first unbeliever I’ve met who thinks nobody ever, ever faced doubt before.
This lack of familiarity with Christian history comes across in how artist Dillon depicts Jesse. When he preaches, he wears a collarless pastel suit, reminiscent of disgraced 1980s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. After the runaway spirit, code-named Genesis, immolates that suit, Dillon re-clothes him in a cowboy shirt with silver collar points and a bolo tie. These British creators evidently tie Christianity together with Southern American cultural excess.
The first half of this volume, collecting the first six issues of the comic, are set in Texas, and mostly involve exposition. Our protagonists get to know one another, while piecing together the circumstances which made God go missing. Meanwhile, a literally unstoppable foe emerges, dressed like a villain in a Sergio Leone B-movie. The Saint of Killers has only one objective: stop Jesse’s gang at any cost.
By the second half, with the throat-clearing finished, our protagonists actually commence their quest for the missing God. This story couples our chicken-fried protagonists with a parody of 1990s Manhattan crime dramas, including a character who helpfully narrates his story in voice-over captions. Reading along, it becomes increasingly clear our artists only know America from prime-time network TV.
Sometimes I enjoy media constructed from scraps of previous pop culture; other times I despise it. The difference generally boils down to one question: does the artist appear to be having any damn fun? In this case, I respond with “meh.” Like, our creators apparently enjoy what they’re creating, but not enough to conceal their unfamiliarity with their topic. It’s not fun enough to sweep me past their glaring flaws.
British anthropologist (and adult convert to Catholicism) E.E. Evans-Pritchard wrote, in his 1965 book Theories of Primitive Religion, that the discipline of comparative religion suffered because too many theorists had no faith. Because they couldn’t comprehend the experience of believing in something, their theories reflected their prejudices, not facts. Evans-Pritchard didn’t prescribe any specific religion, but suggested that faith, as an experience, is necessary to studies of others’ religions.
That, I fear, describes my experience reading this book. Ennis and Dillon hold religion in undisguised contempt. Therefore they don’t realize the questions they raise are centuries old, or that their characters are little more complex than paper dolls. They just hold the characters, and their faith, up to mockery and derision, and think they’ve created a story. They interject moments of fun and complexity, but largely, they address religion like petulant children intolerant of doubt.
This first volume we find Jesse Custer, a small-town preacher in Texas giving a sermon to his flock when his church and congregation is suddenly destroyed. He now becomes a preacher possessing super powers but cannot find out why. The story moves along with this religious coupling of an angel and demon. Jessie finds out that “God” has left his angels in charge and has now disappeared.
Jesse travels on the road with his two companions, Cassidy, a liquor loving Irish Vampire and Jesse’s ditsy gun carrying girlfriend Tulip to many places in search for “God” in order to hold his accountable for abandoning his duties to humankind.
It is difficult to find who the actual holy angels are and bad angels are, as well as who the hell the good guys and bad guys are when reading this graphic novel. It seems to me after finishing Book #1 there are only pure evil entities and morally flawed humans who inhabit this strange world where it appears “God” took a vacation from being in charge.
The Preacher’s family who we meet in the last half of this book are about the most evil group as you will find on Earth and in Hell. I will have to admit the color illustrations throughout this 352 page graphic novel are just fantastic and that is the main reason I gave this irreverent book 5 stars.
If you are into unusual graphic novels you may want to check out this unique graphic novel series.
Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Training alone in Combatives and Self-Defense).
Top reviews from other countries
The warning first - you won't recognise much of the plot here. The comic is richer, stranger and much more foul mouthed than the TV series.
And congratulations! The comic is richer, stranger and fouler by far than the TV series!
In case you don't know the tv show or the books, those three main characters are the Reverend Jesse Custer, a swearing, drinking, blaspheming Texan vicar in search of God to ask him some damned hard questions; his former lover, Tulip; and an even more sweary and drunken Irishman called Cassidy. All have had varyingly bizarre and frequently harrowing lives at the point where they come together as one of the oddest trios you're likely to meet in comic books. Despite their many and extreme differences, dark pasts and potentially equally dark futures, they discover a sort of grudging, unwilling yet genuine comradeship. In a dark world, faced with even darker dangers, they begin to look out for each other. The result is unexpectedly touching and Ennis' love of gore and violence are balanced by genuinely witty black humour as well as the weird affection the three find for each other. Guess I'll be getting the other volumes...
... and if you haven't seen the tv show, you really should. It is very, very good.
Lets get the big question out of the way before we begin, because it was the first question I had going in. Are the comic and the show the same?
I went looking for the graphic novel having seen season one, and I was shocked to see how long ago it was written – and also that it had actually finished it’s run a number of years ago. So that fits right in for me as I love starting a series that has already completed it’s run. I do however have my work cut out for me (as do you if you want to start them).
The collection I have started is the first of six books which collect the whole series. They are also available as a collection of three books titled Absolute Preacher 1 – 3, but the only versions I could find of that were very expensive by comparison.
Now… to the book
Preacher Book 1 brings together the original 12 comics. It is certainly not for the faint of heart and has brutal violence, graphic humor, sex, more violence, blasphemy, more violence, and a guy who looks like he has an ass for a face. So yeah, you’ve guessed it. I loved it.
The story delves in great detail into why Jesse is the way he is, why he left Tulip, and the story of his upbringing. The sequencing of the story makes for enthralling reading as we are given just enough detail about the past during down periods where Jesse isn’t in full battle mode. This combined with brilliant art work make this one not to be missed. If you have seen the show, and are wondering whether or not to start the graphic novels, I highly recommend you do. I for one will be trying to get my hands on the rest of them ASAP.
The first four issues is an origin story of sorts and sets up the character's relationships perfectly. The next three is a murder mystery story about a Hannibal Lecter-ish serial killer. It also focuses on two New York detectives who're on the killer's case. It's like Se7en meets Silence of the Lambs meets a weird religious fugitive.
It's issues #8-12 that are the best by far. When Tulip and Jesse are captured by Jesse's "family", he must explain to Tulip why he deserted her years prior and how he became devoted to God. These issues make me forget I'm even reading a comic. It features such sad situations that it feels like a TV show. Ironic really, seeing as this comic has become a show. The writing is incredibly realistic and specific vocabulary to whoever's talking. The art also perfectly reflects this. I think the best part is showing angels swear in Heaven. That image just humours me.
Overall: Great first book and definitely recommend (for audiences of 15+ at least).
I decided to start purchases these graphic novels after falling in love with the Preacher series on Amazon Prime Video. I’ve only recently started reading graphic novels but was introduced to them through Ennis’s “The Boys” and have been loving every moment of both The Boys and Preacher. The writing is great and the artwork is amazing, and often brutal! Definitely well worth the read.
My delivery box did arrive damaged with minor damage to the book itself, but nothing worth taking away from the product itself.